Wallace Causes Opponents to Crash in Brooklyn
This look at Gerald Wallace's 2012-13 season is the fifth feature in a series reviewing the Brooklyn Nets' inaugural year playing at Barclays Center. For more, read about GM Billy King, PG Deron Williams, SG Joe Johnson and C Brook Lopez.
Gerald Wallace, in his first full season with the Nets, saved his best for the playoffs. In the team's seven-game First Round series against the Bulls, Wallace averaged 12.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists while shooting .463 overall and .379 from three-point range in 34.7 minutes per, all the while playing stifling defense on whichever Chicago swingman he guarded.
Before illness forced All-Star Luol Deng to the bench for the final two games, Wallace limited the veteran forward to just .377 shooting (23-62 FGs) – including 1-of-12 from three-point range – during their 154 shared minutes, according to NBA.com/Stats. That followed four regular-season games in which Wallace kept Deng, a career .460 shooter, below 40 percent from the field.
"All in all I think this was kind of a down year for me, but I feel comfortable and excited about the way I finished the season," Wallace says. "I'm going into the summer knowing the things I can do to get better."
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Wallace will likely focus on tightening up his three-point shooting; he finished the season at .289 after a strong first half (.351) was followed by a post-All-Star malaise (.135) that didn't pass until the playoffs. A league-average shooter in the left corner (.387) and right wing (.324), Wallace would greatly aid the Nets' floor spacing were he able to pull up his averages from the rest of the arc. Creating room for Brook Lopez's postups and attacks by Deron Williams and Joe Johnson will subsequently open opportunities for not only threes, but the sharp, intuitive cuts that allow Wallace opportunities at the rim.
But Wallace didn't earn the nickname "Crash" for his shooting prowess. His hustle has made the 11-year veteran a fan-favorite at every stop in the league; without spending a full season in Portland, Wallace received a hearty ovation when introduced pregame at the Rose Garden in March. And the 12-year veteran's defense played a major part in General Manager Billy King's decision to add Wallace at the 2012 trade deadline.
"I learned from (Hall of Fame coach) Larry Brown that there's always that small forward position," King says. "You've got to have enough guys to guard that. And I think, for the most part, until our guys started breaking down, we did. And so maybe I add a little more to that because you're going to face the Paul Georges (of Indiana) for a long time; you're going to face LeBron (James, of Miami) for, unfortunately, a long time. But I do think our core is good – we've got to add."
Overall, the Nets improved by 3.0 points per 100 possessions with Wallace on the floor: 1.0 offensively and 2.0 on defense. Wallace was also a member of three of the team's top five-man lineups (min. 40 minutes), and six of 10 total.
Wallace isolated 85 percent of his shooting to the restricted area and three-pointers this season, making only 70 attempts from mid-range. He uncharacteristically struggled at the rim, shooting .512 after connecting at .543 and .544 clips in 2012-13 and 2011-12, respectively.
But like his teammates, Wallace now wields the experience gained from a full season in Brooklyn, playing alongside a returning core.
"It'll be good for us," Wallace says. "Everybody's together so we pretty much know. With that year under our belt, we didn't get as far as we thought we would get, and we didn't do as good as we thought we would do, but hopefully the second year will be a lot better."
View the Gerald Wallace Season Highlights photo gallery.
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